The Phantom of the (tragic) Middle East Opera is back. A killer without a clue, he can’t be blamed for not being consistent.
His most recent opus speaks for itself; like a Kabuki mask high on Earl Grey tea, the Phantom is eviscerated by his own mighty pen, actually sword.
The fact that the Phantom keeps getting away with his vast desert of convoluted lies – instead of languishing in some rotten, extraordinary rendition hotel – spells out all we need to know about so-called Western “elites”, of which he’s been a faithful, and handsomely rewarded, servant.
So Western “inaction” in Syria has led to the latest Iraq tragedy? Sorry, Tony; it was yours and “Dubya’s” 2003 Shock and Awe “action” that set the whole Shakespearean tragedy in motion.
The Phantom always wanted the Obama administration to bomb Syria, as much as he labored for “Dubya” to destroy Iraq. Phantom logic never considered that would have installed in Damascus the same Islamic State of Iraqi and the Levant (ISIL) that is now making a push towards Baghdad.
Then there’s the gift that keeps on giving – the endlessly recycled, repackaged Global War on Terror (GWOT), of which the Phantom was the prime sidekick. So Phantom had to be on board the latest US craze – which brands ISIL as the avatar of a new 9/11.
In Syria, Phantom has been one of the prime instigators of the “rebel with a cause” ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra-infested gang. If the Phantom’s bombing logic had won in Syria – he was preaching Damascus as a replay of 2003 Baghdad – Aleppo would be, for a while now, an avatar of Mosul.
The deeper we get into it, the Phantom looks and sounds like the heir of – also clueless – British commanders in 19th century Afghanistan. Look, for instance, at this unintended consequence of the 2001 American bombing of Afghanistan; now we have Hazaras – Afghan Shi’ites – fighting side by side with Iranians, alongside Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army, against the Phantom-supported Syrian “rebels”. Oh Tony; not even your old cohort Peter “Lord of Darkness” Mandelson could have explained that.
By the way, the Phantom has always been a firm believer in the “evil” of Iran, constantly “warning” that Tehran was on the verge of assembling a nuclear weapon (old habits – as in the Phantom’s Saddam syndrome – die hard.) So imagine his Dick Cheney-worthy stupor when Washington and Tehran are on the verge of discussing in Vienna the set up of some sort of joint action to fight ISIL in Iraq, and even “uber-hawks” such as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham utter the unimaginable words, “We are probably going to need [Iran’s] help to hold Baghdad.”
The Phantom would be incapable of connecting the geopolitical dots from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria; the bottom line he would be unable to identify is that there is absolutely no strategic, long-term Anglo-American foreign policy project in what the Pentagon still calls the “arc of instability”. If there ever was a motto, it was “Dubya’s” “you’re either with us or with the terrorists”. A motto turned on its head, because until this very moment Anglo-American power was “with the terrorists”, from Libya to Syria; a predictable perversion of time-tested Divide and Rule.
The Obama administration is going no holds barred to get a SOFA in Afghanistan – code for Enduring Freedom forever (with “discreet” Special Forces as the invisible stars.) Washington has already admitted it is sending lethal “assistance” to “moderate” rebels in Syria (as, in theory, the Islamic Front goons, not Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIL). As if Hollywoodish CIA assets wouldn’t know that these weapons will certainly be bought and/or stolen by hardcore jihadis.
ISIL in the borderless desert between Syria and Iraq is already a proto-Caliphate. Blowback from this weaponizing of so-called “moderates” – there are no “moderates”, as there are no Taliban “moderates” – will be no less than staggering. Victims includes Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran; Turkmen in Iraq (as it’s already happening this week); and of course Christians all over (as it already happened in Syria).
Bomb them into democracy, again
The Phantom now is preaching for American “intervention” in Iraq; first you starve them; then you bomb them into a wasteland and call it “democracy”; then you occupy them; then you infest them with jihadis; then they kick you out; then the jihadis raise hell (now flush with $425 million stolen from a government vault in Mosul, apart from loads of cash from Wahhabis in the Gulf to buy all those white Toyotas and RPGs); then you re-occupy them softly. It IS the gift that keeps on giving.
As for the notion – equally peddled by the Phantom and US neo-cons – that ISIL is a threat to Western security (“trying to do harm to Europe, to America and other people”, in Kerry’s words), that’s nonsense; a joke as monumental as that maze of American satellites incapable of tracking a long line of white Toyotas advancing in the Western Iraqi desert – leading to the swift disintegration of four Iraqi army divisions.
They saw it, they tracked it, and they kept mum. That’s straight from the Empire of Chaos’s playbook. Why not advance murderous “Divide and Rule” between Sunnis and Shiites? Let them eat corpses – and kill each other to kingdom come, as in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.
ISIL’s push is a remix of the Sunni-Shi’ite civil war of 2006-2007, whose effects, pre-American surge, I documented in my reportage book Red Zone Blues. At the time, it was all centered in Baghdad; when al-Qaeda in Iraq took over the Dora neighborhood in Baghdad, that lasted only a short while. Sunnis themselves rebelled against the medieval jihadi “worldview”.
The Phantom, anyway, got his wish; Iraq is for all practical purposes broken, irretrievably fragmented, and cannot be “fixed” (Colin Powell’s terminology). The Kurds have already solved one of the most intractable problems of post-Shock and Awe; they’ve already rearranged Sykes-Picot by taking over oil-rich Kirkuk (not to mention the Nineveh plateau).
And as further proof ISIL has nothing to do with a threat to Western security, the tanks and heavy artillery they captured in Iraq were redirected to Syria, in their push to fight Damascus.
This is all too much for the Phantom to digest. Perhaps he should start by reading this – as in Iraqi works rejecting everything that happened even before 2003, and even before the Phantom’s limelight moment.
As for the Phantom’s key argument that what’s happening now in Iraq is the result of less – and not more – Western warmongering, call it phantom hubris. The “Middle East” – in fact Southwest Asia – is a Western fiction imposed by colonial powers on the local populations. What the Pentagon described since the early 2000s as the “arc of instability” is a self-fulfilling projection of anarchy, with some patches of “peace” represented by those repellent GCC petro-monarchies (after we need “our” oil).
And then there’s the slowly but surely inevitable process of progressive integration of Eurasia – along the myriad, Chinese-driven new silk roads. That’s anathema for the empire of chaos and its “special relationship” minion. So Southwest Asia in perpetual chaos is more than welcomed. Expect hubristic Phantom to call for increased fuel to be added to this Western-concocted opera already on fire.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.